You just completed your state’s requirement to obtain a license to carry. You wait anxiously for it to arrive and once it does you are legal, now what?
I get this question frequently and my best advise if you are new to concealed carry is educate yourself. The idea of being prepared for the real world after any state mandated course is asking a lot. The naive don’t recognize this, the smart avoid this pitfall. There are lots of resources out there to start such as blogs, books and other credible sources. Spend some time getting to know what it entails to carry concealed, you owe it to yourself and family members. The biggest mistake you could make is viewing your new license and handgun as more a talisman rather than a defensive tool.
You don’t know, what you don’t know
Once you have educated yourself more than likely you will realize how much you really don’t know. It might be time to invest in training, credible training. Taking a training class is the next best investment after obtaining your license. Most classes go over a wide array of topics from recommended equipment to best practices with a heavy focus on marksmanship. Establishing a sustainable training program should be your next priority. It is difficult to take two or three classes a year, but if you can count yourself lucky. Most get a good 16-hour training class around 18-24 months. Finding a location where you can practice on a regular basis will help sustain your skill level during the intermission of classes.
Define your mission
You may discover the handgun you took to get your license turns out to be sub-optimal when it comes to the mission at hand. The mission is everyday carry, meaning you carry the handgun day in and day out. At this level you recognize all the challenges the micro of full size handguns. Yes, the micro’s are great for concealing, but they are challenging to effectively engage targets repeatedly. Their reward becomes a risk when you have limited capacity and more difficulty getting solid and repeated hits on target. On the flip side of the equation is the full size pistol which generally is a great gun for a new shooter. Some will disagree, but new shooters tend to be recoil sensitive; which can hinder progress. Full size handguns are a bit more forgiving helping to promote continued progress. That’s the reward, the risk is the difficulty in trying to conceal for the average person. Don’t make the mistake of simply covering the handgun, put the effort into doing a good job of really concealing.
Comfort is not overrated
My favorite subject for a new shooter is deciding where to carry their concealed handgun. I put a high premium on being comfortable. If you are uncomfortable you will constantly fidget or adjust your loadout; which draws unwanted attention. That attention can lead to scrutiny eventually to discovery. A great way to get comfortable is to wear the handgun/holster combination in your home as often as you can. Can you perform simple tasks such as sitting down, bending over or reaching overhead without printing or adjusting. If so, then wearing it more frequently around the house will lead to more comfort; which leads to more confidence.
Once you make the decision to enter the real world hopefully you will be better prepared. Don’t forget an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.